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Coping with ADHD Adults

written by: jamesj • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 2/17/2011

Coping with ADHD is not easy, neither sometimes is coping with ADHD adults. Realizing their behavior is not an attack on you, is one of the best things you can do.

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    Coping with ADHD Adults

    People who have ADHD have a lot to cope with, but they are not the only ones who will struggle with the condition as their friends, colleagues and family members may also have problems coping with ADHD adults.

    The ADHD person may not understand him or herself all the time, which also makes it more difficult for those who do not have this condition to understand why the person acts the way they do.

    If you have a spouse, or coworker, who has ADHD, you too will have to develop some coping skills, just as they have. Trying to have a sense of humor helps, and there are some things you can do to make life easier for yourself and perhaps for that person close to you who has ADHD.

    What follows are some tips for coping with ADHD adults:

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    Coping with ADHD Adults: Communication

    • It isn't personal: ADHD people tend to zone out and appear not to be listening. They forget things and basically have trouble in social situations. Realize that their behavior is not aimed at you personally. You do not need to excuse bad behavior, but at least by understanding that their actions are not intentional you will not put your relationship with them at risk.
    • Listening or hearing: ADHD people tend to lose conversations, or get distracted easily. If you want to make sure you were heard, ask them to repeat what you said so you can check that it registered.
    • Get their attention: It is difficult to get an ADHD person's attention if they are intently focused on something. You may have to make eye contact, and get them to stop doing whatever it is they are doing. Sometimes writing a note is more effective than verbal communication.

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    Coping with ADHD Adults: At work

    • In writing: If you want a coworker who has ADHD to do something, you are taking a risk with just a verbal request. They may want to give you what you want, but they can forget or are easily distracted. For the best results write them a note, or send an email with your request. If you are a supervisor, you could ask them to write it down, and make sure they do.
    • Organizing: Most ADHD people have trouble with organization. You do not need to get organized for them, but there are some things that might help. You could encourage them to keep notes, or to organize their files. If you are energetic, you might offer to help with organization.
    • Consider strengths and weaknesses: If you are a supervisor, consider the strengths and weaknesses when handing out assignments. Something that requires creativity and dealing with multiple items at once would be good for the ADHD person. Asking them to organize a project might not be a good idea.
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    Coping with ADHD Adults: At home

    • Expectations: The spouse of the person with ADHD may feel stressed at times because things do not get taken care of and items are lost. They may even feel neglected or ignored on occasion. While you should not have to accept bad behavior, you should also be realistic in what you expect an ADHD adult to do.
    • Dreaded change: People with ADHD often do not like change, even though they may change their minds about things many times during the day. Change is still stressful for people with ADHD. If you must change plans, try to give your partner as much warning as possible. It is not so much that they do not want change, it is more that it just takes time for them to adjust. Given a little time, they may actually end up appreciating the change.
    • Positive feedback: Emotionally charged arguments are not likely to work with an ADHD person. They do not handle conflict or tension well. The more you can give positive feedback instead the better.
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    Sources

    ADDers.org: Coping with an ADHD Spouse

    Adult ADHD.com: ADHD in Adult Men

    Helpguide.org: ADHD in Adults